Mikey Garcia’s Bid for Pound-for-pound No. 1
By: Kirk Jackson
Mikey Garcia emerged victorious over the weekend improving his record to 39-0 (30 KO’s) and capturing his fifth world title in a lightweight unification bout against Robert Easter 21-1 (14 KO’s).
After another dominant performance, Garcia’s star continues to shine brighter and it’s time for the boxing public to seriously consider Garcia as the top pound-for-pound fighter.
Surveying various pound-for-pound lists, they’re likely framed to feature the likes of Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko, Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence.
Undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is a fighter who should be considered in the running as one of boxing’s best fighters and is slept on by a vast majority of the mainstream boxing community.
Making a case for Garcia, he has five world titles across four weight classes in seven championship fights. Traveling from weight class to weight class displays the will and desires to be great.
— Team Mikey Garcia (@mikeygarcia) July 30, 2018
Among his pound-for-pound contemporaries, Garcia faced and defeated a larger tally of world champion fighters. As of now, Garcia defeated 10 world champions, six by knockout.
By comparison, Crawford and Lomachenko defeated six world champions each, Golovkin defeated five, Usyk defeated four and Spence defeated three.
This statistic is not the end-all argument especially considering the multitude of variables at play, but this statistic looks good on paper in favor of Garcia.
Accolades, accomplishments, world titles or records set factor in towards a fighter’s pound-for-pound status. The resume is a crucial factor.
Another measure is the skill-set of pound-for-pound elite fighters and the ability to display these talents against the highest level of opposition.
Garcia displays a certain skill-set required to transcend across several weight divisions. Although not flashy, the subtle adept techniques and overall consistency is what establishes Garcia amongst the greatest fighters of today.
Because Garcia isn’t ostentatious with his lateral movement, punches and overall style, his skills tend to get overlooked.
In the sport of basketball, Tim Duncan for example is considered one of the greatest players of all-time, but his style of play for many observes is bland in comparison to flamboyant players such as Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
Lomachenko and Crawford are so skillful and flashy with what they can do, it’s somewhat easier for the common viewer to acknowledge and visualize what makes them great and transcendent as fighters.
As he showcased against Easter, Garcia measures his distance well and can find the right angles to land a variety of well-placed accurate punches.
Not recognized for blazing hand speed, Garcia contends with excellent timing and possessing excellent foot work he can move in and out of range; avoiding danger at pivotal times.
Easter can even attest. “He was just a better man tonight,” Easter said. “I take my hat off to Mikey. He’s a true warrior. … I just couldn’t find the timing and I just couldn’t let my right hand go.”
Another measure establishing and separating the pound-for-pound best from other great fighters worthy of the crown is the risks and challenges that fighter is willing to take to prove his weight in gold so-to-speak.
This year alone, Garcia moved up in weight capturing the vacant IBF junior welterweight title against Sergey Lipinets.
This past weekend he added another world title to his collection defeating undefeated Easter and unifying the light weight division.
As far as seeking greater challenges, Garcia intends to face one of boxing’s most avoided fighters and current IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence.
“There’s no one else that excites me enough, that motivates me and that can challenge me other than Errol Spence, and I’m willing to take that challenge, all the way up, because that’s the fight that will motivate me the most,” said Garcia at the post-fight press conference.
”I’m here to challenge myself. He is the best. He might feel that it’s an easy fight for him, that I’m too small, and that’s fine. Let’s get in the ring and let’s go to work.”
That is the biggest challenge possible. Forgoing further lightweight unification with Lomachenko, if this proposed dream bout against Spence manifests into fruition, this would be the third weight division and third championship bout of the year for Garcia.
“I’m not going to wait around for Lomachenko. I want Errol Spence, bigger threat but bigger reward,” said Garcia. “No one has beat 3 undefeated champions in 3 divisions within 9 months that excites me.”
Not only is this pound-for-pound territory, Garcia would be entering Henry Armstrong like territory.
If Garcia is able to pull of the monumental upset and slay the proverbial monster and one of boxing’s top avoided boogeymen, Garcia without question establishes himself as the best fighter pound-for-pound.
The Difficulty of Holding the Pound for Pound No. 1 Position
By: Ken Hissner
This writer remembers doing an article about my favorite boxer today WBA, WBC, IBF & IBO Middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, of KAZ, living in L.A., along with Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, of UKR, living in Oxnard, CA, and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez from Managua, Nicaragua.
Shortly thereafter Gonzalez was 46-0 at the time holding the WBC World Super Flyweight title and then lost twice to Thailand’s Wisaksil Wangek, then 42-4-1, in 2017.
Golovkin then has what I consider his toughest fight defeating Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs who skipped the second weigh-in and if Golovkin came in at 170 the following day after making 160 what do you think Jacobs weighed? 185? On top of that he fought southpaw to my surprise. Then in his other 2017 title fight he only gets a draw against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. This a decision many including me thought was highway robbery after chasing Alvarez the last seven rounds.
Lomachenko over the week-end had it come off the canvas in the sixth round and possibly saved by the bell, only to come back and stop Jorge Linares, for his WBA Super World Lightweight title in the tenth round.
In looking at what this writer considers some of the best ten P4P boxers today I still consider Golovkin and Lomachenko as the best two. Others are Mikey Garcia, 38-0 (30), WBO Featherweight, WBO Junior Lightweight champion, WBC World Lightweight champion and IBF Light Welterweight champion.
Then there is Terence “Bud” Crawford, 32-0 (23), of Omaha, NEB, the former WBO Lightweight, WBO, WBC, WBA and IBF Light Welterweight champion now a welterweight who on June 9th will be challenging WBO Welterweight champion Jeff Horn. Crawford will be a heavy favorite in that one.
There’s the Charlo brothers from Houston, Texas, Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo, 30-0 (15), holder of the WBC World Super Welterweight title. His twin brother is the former IBF World Super Welterweight champion Jermall Charlo, 27-0 (21), currently the interim WBC World Middleweight title.
There’s Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), from Clearwater, FL, holder of the WBA & WBC Welterweight titles that he unified back in March of 2017 and due to injury hasn’t fought since.
There’s Chayaphon Moonsri, 50-0 (18), the WBC Minimum World Champion from Bangkok, Thailand. As long as he keeps winning I have a feeling Floyd “Money” Mayweather is going to keep fighting to stay one win ahead of him.
Finally the two heavyweight champions Anthony “AJ” Joshua, 21-0 (20), who holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles, from Watford, UK. Then the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, 40-0 (39), from Tuscaloosa, AL.
Garcia and Lomachenko may be a future unification bout. Joshua and Wilder may be a future unification bout. Crawford winning the WBO title could meet Thurman in a unification bout. Golovkin and Charlo could be in a unification bout. So as you can see if those bouts happen my top ten P4P list four of them would be eliminated.
It’s not like “back in the day” where most of us knew there was only one P4P best and that was “Sugar” Ray Robinson!
Who is the pound-for-pound ruler: April 2017 Edition: Who’s Number One?
Who is the pound-for-pound ruler: April 2017 Edition: Who’s Number One?
By: Kirk Jackson
Who is the best fighter pound-for-pound as we close the chapter on the first quarter of the calendar year?
With Roman Gonzalez 46-1 (38 KO’s) recently falling albeit in controversial fashion, this leaves an opportunity for another fighter to seize the no.1 position. Gonzalez was cited by most media outlets at the top pound-for-pound guy prior to his defeat.
Who are the most qualified fighters to occupy the position as the no. 1 guy?
It’s important to know what to look for, so we’ll use criterion from Ring magazine as a set of guidelines.
1. Results. This is the most objective criterion and takes precedence over all others.
2. Performance. How a fighter performs in a victory or defeat can be a factor to determine his place in the ratings.
3. Track record: A fighter’s accomplishments in the recent past can be a factor to determine his place in the ratings. That includes quality of opposition.
This isn’t law, but it provides a rough estimate on what we can use to establish who is fit as the no.1 fighter pound-for-pound.
Here are the candidates.
Gennady Golovkin 36-0-0 (33 KO’s). Super WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight champion.
Golovkin is one of the more dominant fighters in recent memory and the most dominant champion in the middleweight division since Bernard Hopkins. ESPN’s Dan Rafael has Golovkin as the best fighter pound-for-pound.
Golovkin has a well decorated amateur background capturing an Olympic silver medal at the 2004 games in Athens. His skills transcended into the professional ranks as he currently holds three middleweight world titles, possessed a 23 fight knock-out streak and is 18-0 (17 KO’s) in world title fights.
Golovkin possesses a piercing, accurate jab, displays great ring generalship with his ability to cut off the ring, has a solid chin (never been knocked down) and has tremendous punching power sporting an 89% knock-out ratio.
The biggest markagainst Golovkin is his lack of quality opposition and the debatable narrative of his boogeyman status within the world of boxing.
As a skilled fighter with punching prowess it’s easy to see how Golovkin may be avoided by some fighters but there are willing participants wanting to face Golovkin and these match-ups have not come into fruition. Erislandy Lara, James DeGale, Andre Ward come to mind.
Politics are a part of boxing and it’s unfair to blame a particular side especially if we do not know the details of hypothetical match-ups.
As Golovkin approaches the age of 35, time may be potentially running short for ‘GGG’ to attract some of bigger names of the sport and to add names to further cement his legacy.
Vasyl Lomachenko 7-1-0 (5 KO’s). WBO Super featherweight champion.
Lomachenko is regarded by many boxing analysts as one of the greatest amateur fighters of all time. He won a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships, consecutive gold medals at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, and consecutive gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Lomachenko won the WBO featherweight title in his third fight and has a record of 6-1-0 (4 KO) in world title fights. He became a two division world champion in just seven professional fights breaking the record set by Naoya Inoue of two divisional world titles in eight fights set in 2014.
The Ukrainian star also known as ‘Hi-Tech’ possesses excellent hand speed, superb reflexes, offensive versatility and tremendous lateral movement.
From a skill standpoint, Lomachenko is there. He has arguably the best footwork in boxing. But he has less than ten fights on his resume and is it possible for a fighter lacking the professional experience to be regarded as the best pound-for-pound?
Although there is a lack of experience, Lomachenko is facing top opposition.Nicolas Walters and Gary Russell Jr. are elite fighters. Orlando Salido – the only man to defeat Lomachenko, may not be considered elite, but he’s as rugged as they come and a tough match-up for anyone.
Lomachenko’s next opponent Jason Sosa is solid fighter – if not considered elite opposition.
Lomachenko is a few fights away from potentially securing top status as the pound-for-pound king. Perhaps a fight against undefeated three division champion Mikey Garcia 36-0 (30 KO’s) awaits Lomachenko in the near future and may propel him to the top.
Terence Crawford 30-0-0 (21 KO’s).WBC, WBO, The Ring and lineal junior welterweight champion.
Crawford is a two division world champion, currently holding the unified WBC, WBO, Ring magazine, and lineal light welterweight titles since 2016.
Crawford previously held the WBO, Ring, and lineal lightweight titles from 2014 to 2015 and was voted Fighter of the Year for 2014 by the Boxing Writers Association of America and ESPN.
Crawford is an extremely gifted fighter equipped with high boxing I.Q., technical prowess, good hand speed, punching power and mental tenacity.
All of these qualities describe a nightmarish match-up for opponents.
Oh yeah, Crawford is also a switch-hitter; likes to switch from the orthodox (right-handed) stance to southpaw (left-handed) ala Marvin Hagler and appears to be more effective from the southpaw stance.
From a technical standpoint the only slight criticism of Crawford is he occasionally has lulls on the defensive end and gets hit with unnecessary punches.
Crawford has the skills and a solid resume.
He effectively cleared out the lightweight division. The switch-hitter defeated the likes of Ricky Burns, Raymond Beltran and YuriorkisGamboa. He even moved up in weight to junior welterweight and defeated Viktor Postol – a fighter regarded as the best in the division.
As great as Crawford is, the career defining super-fight is an ever elusive target. As talks of facing Manny Pacquiao continue to fade, it’s difficult to imagine Crawford getting the super-fight against the high quality pound-for-pound opponent (Pacquiao) he desires.
Andre Ward: 31-0-0 (15 KO’s). Undisputed WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight champion.
One of the most gifted fighters of his generation, second arguably to Floyd Mayweather, War d is a complete fighter. Defensively oriented, Ward has the ability to fight at any distance and excels at fighting in close proximity.
America’s last male Olympic gold medalist, Ward once ruled the super middleweight division as the winner of the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament and was the unified WBC, WBA and lineal champion defeating notable fighters such as Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Chad Dawson.
Last November, Ward moved up to the light heavyweight division and battled pound-for-pound contemporary Sergey Kovalev in the most significant fight of 2016. Because of the magnitude of the fight, it was believed by many boxing critics the winner would ascend as the pound-for-pound king.
A criticism in the past about Ward has been his stretches of inactivity. These stretches of inactivity were either due to injury or due to promotional issues – both of which have been resolved for the time being.
Another knock on Ward is with his most recent and significant victory. Many spectators believe Kovalev won the fight and unfortunately for Ward, he is not given the credit for defeating Kovalev.
Perhaps the rematch in June will give both the fighters and observers the resolution and clarity they seek.
How we measure skills is subjective. Each fighter mentioned has a unique skill set, different from each other.
As an observer, it’s okay to have a preference for one style over another. But it’s important to understand the effectiveness of other styles and to have an appreciation for various skill sets as well.
What separates Ward from Crawford, Golovkin and Lomachenko is the level of opposition. The others have good resumes as far as opposition goes but Ward actually faced and defeated a pound-for-pound contemporary (Kovalev). If Kovalev defeats Ward in the rematch later this year, he obviously has a case for the no.1 position pound-for-pound.
Wins over Chad Dawson and Carl Froch – fighters who both had stints on the top ten pound-for-pound list also gives Ward the edge regarding resume.
Again, how we view fighters and measure them against another is all subjective. Each fighter has a valid case for the top spot.